Thomas Edward Johnson

Oct 8, 1944 - Oct 30, 2022

East Lawn Elk Grove Memorial Park
9189 East Stockton Blvd.
Elk Grove , CA, 95624

Obituary

Thomas Edward Johnson was born October 8, 1944, in Wilmer, Alabama, to James and Addie Carrie Johnson. He passed away peacefully on October 30, 2022, in Sunnyvale, California.
The third of five children, Thomas (nickname Sonny) helped support his family by “dipping turpentine” in the woods with his father and baby brother, James. Work was the family priority, often leaving him to attend school only 1 day a week. Despite this, Thomas had a love for learning and a drive to succeed that allowed him to achieve the rank of valedictorian at Rosa A Lott High School, in Citronelle, AL.
Following his father’s death at age 20, he became an emancipated minor and assumed custody of his baby brother. He leaned on his community support system to facilitate his acceptance into Tuskegee Institute, where he became a member of the Gamma Phi Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. (1964) and graduated with a BS in Electrical Engineering (1967). He later earned his MBA in Management and Finance at the University of Santa Clara, with continued postgraduate studies at the University of Southern California.
Rising beyond his humble beginnings, TJ, as he was affectionately known to friends and colleagues, was a loyal and dedicated career man. In 1967 he joined Lockheed Missiles and Space Company in Sunnyvale, CA as an Associate Engineer. He would take on progressive roles until his retirement as Director of the Fleet Ballistic Missile Test & Support Systems Engineering Program in 2005. Throughout his 38 years of service, he was recognized for numerous achievements, including US Black Engineer Magazine’s national nomination for Black Engineer of the Year, the National Management Association’s Silver Knight Award, the Department of the Navy’s prestigious Reliability, Maintainability, and Quality Assurance Award and his proudest professional achievement- being the 1st African American to run the FBM (nuclear missile) program.
Personally, TJ was a proud husband, father, and grandfather. He was a generous provider, determined to give his children more exposure than he had as a youth – a gift that allowed each to flourish in their own way. As one who never met a stranger, he spoke of his family often. In fact, he was known to pull out his “billfold” to share pictures and brag about their accomplishments with the most casual acquaintances.
TJ was also a devoted friend. His charismatic nature and quick wit drew people in, blessing him with many decades-long friendships.
The life of the party, TJ was in his element when surrounded by friends, playing cards, talking trash- including a few choice words, and enjoying a good gin and tonic. He also loved fast cars, traveling, and a great meal.
He is survived by his wife of thirty-one years, Vernetta Johnson, children, Shawn, Kenyon (Kenetria), and Evan Johnson, granddaughter, Kendyl Johnson, nephews, Bryan, Jahmal, and Jason Johnson and niece, Erica Garcia. He was preceded in death by his parents, James and Addie Carrie Johnson, siblings James (Peanut) Johnson, Ernest (Bill) Curtis, Joe Nichols, Addie Mae Brown, and grandchildren Kennedy Johnson and Kenyon “Deuce” Johnson, II.
His gregarious laugh, witty humor, and larger-than-life personality will be greatly missed, though never forgotten.

Guestbook

  • Corey Johnson says:

    Our deepest sympathy and prayers to the Johnson family.

  • Henry Jackson says:

    Jimmy & Ruby Jackson
    Rest In Peace my friend, you will be missed.

  • Ronnie Bledsoe says:

    OH MY! I’m so sorry to hear of TJ’s passing. We first met shortly after his Lockheed career began. Our paths crossed many times over the years. In the FBM Program Office and as Managers in Product Support Engineering.
    We played softball on the same team for many seasons.
    My deepest sympathies and condolences to his family and multitude of friends.
    Ronnie Bledsoe

  • Mr. & Mrs> James Scott says:

    Our deepest sympathies and condolences. Praying God will comfort you and bless the memories your heart holds. In our prayers always.
    James and Brucetta Scott

  • Wil (Blu) & Diane Brown says:

    Deeply sadden and shocked by T J death.We were friends and classmates at Tuskegee. Also visited and called each other over the years. Enjoyed our friendship. Will miss you my friend. Love to Vernetta and family.

  • Tee/Verne Thrower says:

    Praying God give you peace, strength and encouragement during this difficult time.

  • Jacquelyn Williams-Argyle says:

    Sincere condolences to Mrs. Vernetta, the children and grand children. Also to his close friend and my former teacher, Ms. Mary Sutton. We are so sorry for your great loss but honored to have shared in his pilgrimage on earth. May his soul rest in peace and rise in eternal glory. We pray God’s strength during your time of sorrow. Sending our love and prayers from the Williams Family, Freeport, Grand Bahama Island.

  • Patricia Ross-Mallett says:

    Sending condolences to the family. Clai and I are so sorry hear of TJ’s passing.

  • Brenda and Ania says:

    Vernetta, you were the perfect mate for T.J. He was a loyal and “perfect” friend to our posse family. He will always be with us in spirit and memories. You have everything you need for the life (journey) without him physically with you. T. J. was loved and you are loved. God has you. His gift of peace beyond understanding is within you.

  • Carolyn Williams says:

    Our sincere condolences to the family!

    Robert & Carolyn Williams

  • Fran Crockett Smith says:

    I will always think of those SPECIAL times we spent at all those card parties we shared. Always so kind and full of Fun. I’ll miss you. Thank for the good times and memories.
    Fran

  • Clarice Williams says:

    Sorry for your loss nephew. I love you and am here for you in any way that I can be. Just let me know.

    Aunt Clarice

  • Art Dutra says:

    So sorry to hear of TJ’s passing. My sincere condolencesto his Family.I will miss dearly.

  • Stanley Hornbuckle says:

    My family and I send our condolences and deepest sympathy to your family. Many prayers are going up during this time of sorrow.

  • Paula jones says:

    Uncle Sonny you will be well missed. We love you so much. ❤

  • Leon Galbreath says:

    He lived a full happy life! Praying that his friends and family are comforted! 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾

  • Lynda Mitchell says:

    Lynda and James Mitchell says:

    Rest In Peace our dear friend. You’ll be sorely missed.

  • Beverly Marshall & Scott Taper says:

    Still not quite over the shock but our heartfelt prayers are with you and your family.

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